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When To Stop Feeding Baby at Night

I get asked this question all the time, and the trouble is, there is no clear-cut answer.

Some experts say 3 months, some say 6, some say once baby has doubled their birth weight, some say 9 months, and so on, and so on.

It can be very confusing, and every mom worries that her baby isn’t ready or will get hungry during the night if they stop.

This worry seems to never go away no matter how old the baby is. My rule of thumb is that if a baby is healthy and gaining weight, there isn’t much reason why they should need night feeds after the 6th month.

The question I always ask in response is, “How does your baby fall asleep at bedtime?”

I ask this specifically because the reason most babies have a hard time breaking night feedings has nothing to do with being hungry. It’s because they have associated the ritual of falling asleep with the process of feeding, and when they wake up in the night, they can’t get back to sleep without repeating the process.

As grown-ups, we typically wake up and fall asleep again a number of times every night.

Most times, we don’t even realize it’s happening because we’re so accustomed to it. We wake up, we shift to a more comfortable position, we close our eyes and off we go again.

That’s not necessarily the case for a baby that’s accustomed to nighttime feedings. They’re used to waking up, Mom coming in, they’re lifted out of their crib and nursed while they fall back to sleep.

The association gets made in your baby’s head that the transition from waking up to falling asleep is only accomplished through feeding. They’re not necessarily hungry, they just want to get back to sleep, but can’t do it without going through their standard routine.

So how do you break this “feed/sleep” association?

The best way to clear this hurdle is to stop letting your baby fall asleep while she’s feeding. If this is the last part of her nightly sleep routine, shuffle things around a bit so that she’s still awake during her last feeding of the night. Afterwards, read her a story or sing her some songs, but make sure she’s still awake when you put her in her crib.

The goal is to get her to fall asleep independently without any reliance on Mom, Dad, nursing, rocking, or anything else that she can’t do on her own when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

Just remember, don’t let her fall asleep while she’s feeding!

Tickle her, talk to her, sing her a song or give her a little poke, but keep her awake until she’s back in her crib.

Once she learns this skill, both of you will benefit from your restful, sleep-filled nights.

Also, if you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step guide that will help you get your child sleeping 11+ hours a night you can check out The Sleep Sense Program by clicking below.

Learn more here.

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Certified Sleep Sense Consultant Tip

Sleep Training Baby While Room Sharing

“As a pediatric sleep consultant I often work with parents who, for one reason or another, are currently sharing a room with their older infant or toddler. Sometimes its by choice for close proximity to their child; and other times its the result of space limitations within their home.

Be strategic about the location of your child’s sleep space within your bedroom. If your bedroom allows for it, move your child’s crib as far away from your bed as possible. This will help in those moments during the night when you make noises like snoring, coughing, or re-positioning your body. Your child will be less likely to be woken up. Consider using white noise to help drown out these noise as well.”

Leann Latus, PCD(DONA), CLC
Tender Transitions
www.tendertransitionsmn.com
leann@tendertransitionsmn.com
(612) 991-5224

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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